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Understanding The “Probable Cause” Requirement in Illinois Criminal Cases

 Posted on February 24, 2022 in Criminal Defense

TX defense lawyerBeing charged with a crime can be confusing and overwhelming. If you or a loved one are facing charges for driving while intoxicated (DWI), drug possession, or another offense, you may have many questions. One issue that frequently arises in criminal defense cases is interpreting legal jargon and unfamiliar phrases. You may have heard that police need “probable cause” to make an arrest but are unsure exactly what this phrase means. Whether you are the person facing charges or a family member has been arrested, it is important to understand the rights afforded to criminal defendants.

Fourth Amendment Protections for Individuals Accused of a Crime

The U.S. Constitution offers many legal protections to criminal defendants. The Fourth Amendment establishes the “probable cause” prerequisite for arrests, searches and seizures, and search warrants. Probable cause means that officers have a reasonable belief that the law is being broken. Police and other government officials cannot conduct a traffic stop, arrest, or search without a good reason for doing so. Police may not assume that a person has committed a crime based on the way he or she looks or the neighborhood the person is in. Arrests cannot be made on a hunch or guess. Searches, seizures, arrests, and traffic stops must be justified.

How Does the Probable Cause Standard Influence Criminal Cases?

Ultimately, the party who decides whether the probable cause standard was met is the judge presiding over a criminal case. If a criminal defense attorney can demonstrate that police did not have probable cause to take certain actions, the case could even be dismissed.

Consider the following examples:

A man is pulled over for a traffic stop. Police search the vehicle without the driver’s permission and discover illicit drugs in the man’s vehicle. However, a closer inspection of the situation reveals that the officer did not have a valid reason for conducting the vehicle search. In a situation like this, the evidence obtained during the search, in this case, drugs, may be inadmissible in court.

A woman driving down the street is pulled over by police and asked to take a breathalyzer test. The woman fails the test and is arrested and charged with drunk driving. However, the officer cannot give a valid reason for pulling over the woman in the first place. An investigation into the officer’s conduct shows a pattern of racial bias against people of the woman’s race. Because there was no probable cause for the initial traffic stop, the breathalyzer results may be excluded from the case and the DWI charges dropped.

Contact a Frisco Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you or a loved one were charged with a criminal offense, contact a Collin County criminal defense attorney from Law Offices of Biederman & Burleson P.L.L.C. for help. Call 469-333-3333 for a free consultation.




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